Sometimes thoughts, ideas, ways of looking at things come up in sessions, and in my own life, that are guiding, that remind us of helpful ways to walk the path. With your indulgence, I will share them here with you. I hope they prove as useful to you as they have been to me, and others.
Date 13 October 2010
There are a few ideas, that sound like clichés, but are profoundly true, and can be encouraging when times are hard, when things are difficult to face.
1. The only way out is through. Though it sometimes seems easiest, or is just automatic, to avoid difficult situations, issues, emotions, this approach never resolves things. The problems sit there and wait for us to show up again, sometimes having intensified while we were trying not to think about them. So, it's about diving in, taking a deep breath, and letting ourselves talk about and be with the hard stuff. Things shift and change in ways that can't be predicted, and new possibilities and ways of seeing things open up.
2. Lean into the point. Not dissimilar from #1. Where pain seems the sharpest, we fear it and want, I mean really want, to get away from it. But we make it more a monster by doing so, and it seems bigger and badder than it might be. So, with courage, AND fear, we lean into the sharp point, and often find that it hurts much less, seems less overwhelming, from closer up, than it did from farther away.
3. Life is a schoolroom. These hard lessons are our teachers. They suck, but they teach. One way of meeting them with humor is to say, "Oh great, AFGE (another freakin' growth experience)." But we don't get to quit the class. It'll just show up again in another form. So might as well open the book, take the notes, and study the material.
4. Don't know. Fear tells us: "This bad thing will for sure happen if you do this." But, in truth, fear is just arrogant, thinking it can predict the future, see all things. But we can't say, in opposition, "No, this bad thing won't happen." We don't know that either! So the simplest and most accurate way is to "Not Know." This means to go into something with no prediction, to be open to seeing what is revealed when neither fear nor avoidance drives; to just look, wondering, curious, interested in learning about what is there.
Some of these ways of looking at things can be found in one of my favorite books: When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. She is a Buddhist teacher who speaks in very simple and understandable terms. It's the kind of book where you can read a couple of pages and feel heartened. She offers tools.
Ellen Goldstein, LCSW
phone & fax: 585.271.2710
Rochester, New York